Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Welcome to Leadership Bootcamp! Are you Ready?

Written by: on January 8, 2024

Someone recently asked me why I decided to begin a doctoral program when it seemed, at least in their eyes, completely unnecessary in my personal and professional life as a local church pastor. Since I had wrestled with that same question myself before beginning the program, I answered with a metaphor: I shared with them that I had signed up for something like a physical training bootcamp, whipping me into shape. But instead of physical exercise and health, this bootcamp would train me to be a better leader, reader, writer and thinker. While they still weren’t convinced this was necessary in my life, they at least connected with the metaphor. 

It seems appropriate then, that the first post of this new semester is an evaluation of where I currently am in my own abilities to read, write and take notes. 

As far as reading is concerned, it is something that I’ve always enjoyed. I feels like a feast when I have time to read and learn in such a way that stimulates my thinking and gives me new perspectives on each day. But while I have loved reading and have continued to read because, as the axiom goes, “leaders are readers” that rate at which I read and the types of reading I do are pretty consistent and slow. I was overjoyed, then, when the first book assigned to us for this course was, “How to Read a Book” (Adler). I am excited about learning to read in various ways for various purposes, and particularly keen on evaluating my own thought processes while I read and the investigate questions that I will learn how to ask.

In regard to note taking, the “How to Take Smart Notes” book already has me thinking about ways to store my notes, collect them and interact with them so that they all don’t simply become ‘fleeting notes’ as Ahren’s calls them. I usually lose most of my notes because I write them down by hand, but never in organized locations. I’m beginning to use one notebook for all things DLGP and Obsidian as a way to save and utilize notes in research for this program and for other areas of my life.

Finally, I’m excited about this bootcamp forcing me to write more. I am an external processor and a communicator by trade, so the exercise and discipline of writing on a more regular basis is one that I am eager to sharpen and receive consistent feedback on over these next few years together so that I can improve as a thinker, communicator and contributor to conversations that are important to the people that I am called to serve.

So, I’m embracing these areas of learning as one who realizes they are out of shape but am eager and willing to do the work needed to be the best version of myself for the sake of those around me and the work I am called to do next. Here’s to a great year of learning ahead together!


About the Author


Ryan Thorson

Follower of Jesus. Husband. Father. Pastor. Coach. I am passionate about helping people discover the gift of Sabbath and slow down spirituality in the context of our busy world.

17 responses to “Welcome to Leadership Bootcamp! Are you Ready?”

  1. Erica Briggs says:

    I connected with several of your thoughts, starting with the title. This does feel like bootcamp! I’m moving muscles that have been slumbering since 2020. I appreciate your intro as well. I was just asking myself the “why” question in my prayers over the weekend. “Why am I doing this again?” I had a very specific timeline in my request: “I need discernment by the end of the first class. Please and thank you.” The answer came in the form of 1) Dr. Clark’s assurance and “catch me” challenges, 2) the prayers shared in the breakout rooms, and 3) the connection with your story. I’m now thinking: “What metaphor might I use for this journey?” I’ll take some smart notes and get back to you on that!
    I’d like to share a quote from a cookie I saved after dining at my favorite local Chinese restaurant. I opened the fortune around this time last year and saved it in my wallet, right under the clear plastic sleeve that holds my business cards. I haven’t looked at it since, but today I needed to add my new cards. I had just ended a meeting at work, the kind that had me scribbling fleeting notes of what needs to be done this week. I was feeling overwhelmed, my stomach swelling with anxiety. When I read the fortune, I heard God clearly: “Don’t give up. The beginning is always the hardest.”

    • mm Ryan Thorson says:

      Hey Erica! Thanks for your thoughtful post and willingness to share your own story of ‘getting to the beginning’. I agree that the beginning is a huge threshold moment and its great to be on the other side of it together! I’ll be curious to hear if you have a metaphor to share about this journey at some point along the way!

  2. Graham English says:

    Ryan, I can relate to your notes being in different places. How are you going to advance your thinking by taking notes in Obsidian? And, how will you categorize your notes so that they make sense? Asking for a friend.

    • mm Ryan Thorson says:

      Thanks Graham! Yes great question on Obsidian. I think simply taking notes in a digital format, which is generally new to me, will help. I am still taking written notes as a I go then I’d like to make them better notes in Obsidian in a more final form with more questions and connections instead of statements. The 7 minute tutorial helped as well with utilizing a template in Obsidian to make certain connections. Thanks!

  3. Adam Cheney says:

    Yes a boot camp for sure, or at least a swift kick in the rear end. Since you are a pastor and presumably preach every now and then, I wonder what you have been doing for note taking and gathering of information before? I would imagine that you would have some sort of system for keeping your previous sermons and notes for each sermon. Are you looking to add to this or to start a whole new level and system of note-taking?

    • mm Ryan Thorson says:

      Thanks Adam! Great question for reflection. Honestly, I’ve never come up with a great system outside of my own head and heart for storing information for future sermons (and my head and heart are getting old). So, I set up a vault for my church ministry notes and sermon notes as well on Obsidian and I’m excited to build notes for it as well.

  4. Jeff Styer says:

    Ryan, I questioned my own thought process for starting this program. I know the journey will be tough. Like boot camp, it will shape and mold us, hopefully, into good leaders and ideally, more like Christ. I believe learning to read differently and take and organize our notes more efficiently will be a process, but in the end it will shape us into better thinkers and leaders. To answer the question if we ready for leadership boot camp, my response is Sir, yes sir.

  5. Debbie Owen says:

    Ryan, love the idea of a workout and BootCamp! And your reasons for joining the program are not at all the same as mine. Which makes it all the more interesting, doesn’t it?

    What sorts of notes are you starting to make regarding your project? And how are you storing/saving/compiling them?

    • mm Ryan Thorson says:

      Thanks Debbie. I’m trying to do inspectional readings of my research so far. I’ve sort of read many of the books so far but am trying to store my notes on Obsidian so I can have a digital reference point later.

  6. Diane Tuttle says:

    Hi Ryan, Thanks for sharing. I too had significant questions before starting this program considering where I am in my career and my age. Yet, for me, each time it happens, I think of it as a journey God has invited me to take. I know the journey will have rough terrain and hopefully beautiful landscapes, but I am not sure how my journey through this program will have an impact on my “what’s next”. Remembering who did the invite keeps me going.

    • mm Ryan Thorson says:

      Thanks for sharing your journey Diane! I’m excited to see what beautiful landscapes you uncover and great reminder about who did the inviting! Key anchor points when we face the uphill climbs on the journey! Blessings to you.

  7. Nancy Blackman says:

    I love the metaphor! As someone who is the exact opposite of you — I’m an extreme introvert who is a writer and editor. But … I think we all, whether we communicate through speaking or writing or miming or … communicates a message to the world.

    At the end of this bootcamp, what do you hope to take with you for the rest of your life so that your learning. muscles don’t atrophy?

  8. Christy Liner says:

    Hi Ryan, great post! I like to handwrite notes as well – typing just isn’t the same. But alas, they are too hard to keep up with.

    Why do you prefer hand written notes? I find that not only is recollection improved, but also my ability to process complex issues and think critically. Have you experienced this? Any tips for simulating this in typed notes?

  9. mm Ryan Thorson says:

    Hey Christy! Great questions. I think its the more freehand movement i can make with pen and paper that I like so much. I’m trying to get used to Obsidian and hoping the habit of typing more and writing more will be a useful tool as well. But if you come up with any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

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